Armed with his new 20 gauge semi-auto shotgun and Realtree Camo, Team Wild TV expert Lucas Micallef shares his wing shooting trip from Italy.
In Italy, one of the most important days on the hunting calendar is the ‘pre-apertura’ (pre-opening). The exact date depends on the region. In Sicily, for example, the pre- apertura was on the 2nd of September for turtle doves and wood pigeons, and again on the 5th and 6th of September. The general hunting season opens on the 20th of September.
I was invited by my good friend Stefano Saporito, a passionate hunter who owns Sicily’s largest hunting reserve (the Agro-Venatoria S.S Trinita), to join other hunters for this much-anticipated hunting experience. Excited for this opportunity, I booked a ferry ticket from Malta to Pozzallo, packed my gear, most importantly my Realtree outfit which blends very well into the surroundings. A few days earlier my new 20 gauge semi-auto shotgun had been delivered from Marocchi, Italy, so I decided to experience this hunt with this shotgun. I geared up with 28-gram and some 36-gram shotshells in 8 and 6 shot, respectively.
Early on the 1st of September I took a catamaran ferry to Pozzallo, which took me about three and a half hours, then drove with some friends from Pozzallo to Castelvetrano. We had a brief rest at the Agritourism facility which is located approximately 10 minutes from the hunting reserve, and feasted on lovely local delicacies. The next day, we awoke at 3:30 AM and arrived at the reserve at about 4:30, where we were greeted by more than 50 hunters who drove in from all over Italy. This type of hunt consists of a fixed temporary hunting position within the woodlands, where most of the quarry species have been residing during the spring/summer period. After a round of nice Italian espressos, we were directed to the areas where we would be stationed, and moved into the beautiful woodlands.
Unlike in the UK, in Italy wood pigeons are considered a migratory game species, and thus bag numbers are not the same as in the UK. I was stationed in some low olive tree shrubs, where I carved out a good opening between the trees. Just before dawn, the first shots were heard and then hundreds of birds, mostly wood pigeons, started moving out. In a matter of minutes I took over 30 shots at these super-fast birds. The absence of daylight was not helping, but I was very excited!
I then recovered the wood pigeons that I had shot and did my best to keep focused, since there were still many birds moving out of the woods consistently. By that point it was getting difficult to approach the birds successfully, so clever manoeuvres and perfect camouflage were essential. Turtle dove sightings were rare that day, as the calm weather in continental Europe did not encourage the birds to move down south.
At mid-day we took a break for an exquisite lunch, which was prepared by the landlord’s kitchen, and shared our morning experiences with each other. After a brief rest, we returned to the reserve and resumed our positions, waiting for the birds to return to the woods before dusk (very similar to roost shooting). I successfully shot a couple of woodpigeons, and enjoyed watching flocks of Honey Buzzards and White Storks migrate down south in flocks. Just before dark, I packed up, reunited with my friends, and returned to the Agritourism, ending the day in good company and enjoying a nice glass of Italian wine. After a good night’s sleep, we packed up our vehicle and started our journey back home, swapping stories of our favourite hunting moments and already planning our next hunting experience.